Sunday, 19 February 2012

Judges Rule

There was the usual drama in the NBA last night when the Los Angeles Clippers rallied from 15 points back to lead the San Antonio Spurs by 3 with 9.5 seconds left, and possession of the ball. They turned it over on the in-bounds pass, Gary Neal hit a 3, and just like that the game was tied. Thousands traded at 1.01 and loose change at 1000 on the Spurs, who went on to win in overtime. Later, the Golden State Warriors (after a tough night in Oklahoma) looked dead and buried in the first quarter at the Memphis Grizzlies, trailing by 18 points and trading as low as 1.1. As you have read here many times, this is too early in a game for that sort of a price, and by half-time, the Warriors had the lead. After falling 11 points behind, the Grizzlies then rallied to win a close one.

An interesting case in Canada that some of you may have read about recently.
A Toronto man trying to write off casino and racetrack losses against his income tax bill has gambled and lost at Canada's Federal Court of Appeal.

Giuseppe Tarascio claims that gambling is how he earns the bulk of his income. He filed tax returns for several years, claiming both his wins and losses.

By day, Tarascio is a technician with Bell Canada. But on evenings and weekends, he responds to what he claims is his true calling: horses, slot machines, casino games and lotteries.

He claims to have won tens of thousands of dollars. For years he claimed those winnings as income, but he also deducted his losses and expenses.

In his income tax returns for 2002 and 2003, he deducted from his gambling winnings his losses and associated expenses: $40,933 in 2002 and $56,000 in 2003.

But Tarascio’s luck ran out when the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) stepped in and disallowed those deductions.

Tarascio objected and went to tax court. He presented his books and records, but lost there too.

Hoping his courtroom losing streak would end, Tarascio pushed his luck further, taking his case to the Court of Appeal.

He claimed that his degree in mathematics — coupled with his experience in probability theory — gave him the expertise to register his gambling as a business.

But the court turned him down, saying Tarascio had no "systematic method" for gambling and had spent no time practising his skills. He was also required to pay court costs of $1,000.

It didn't help that Tarascio admitted that win or lose, it was really the thrill that drove him to the tables.

Colin Campbell, who teaches tax law at the University of Western Ontario, said the test of whether or not gambling losses are a legitimate writeoff depends on whether it’s a personal or commercial activity.

“That's the dividing line,” said Campbell. “And in the case of gambling, the courts have generally found that gambling is predominately a personal activity.”

Tarascio didn't want to talk about the decision when contacted by CBC News.

Asked if he planned to appeal to the Supreme Court, he said no. That would require a lawyer, but Tarascio said he can’t afford one.
And from south of Canada comes the story of a Virginia man who made "about $355,000 from a lucrative online sports betting operation" and as part of his punishment, has "to attend Gamblers Anonymous meetings."

Maybe it's just me, but I'm not sure the judge fully understood this case.

"I was an accountant from the age of 20 to the age of 30, before I was sacked for no apparent reason . . . What a waste of 14 years that was"

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